This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 23, 2012 12:35 AM. The previous post in this blog was Not too full for a nightcap. The next post in this blog is Call off the fleet. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Staking their claim

We were sitting around digesting a Thanksgiving dinner that couldn't be beat, when the kids asked if we could go to Target. "Tonight? Now?" Yeah. They wanted to see what Black Friday madness was like. We checked the phone. It was quarter to nine. The place opened at nine o'clock. We needed some fresh air and movement after all that food, and so we agreed. Let's check it out. It will be fun.

So out to the airport we drove, expecting seriously heavy traffic but not encountering any. We pulled into the parking lot of the store at 9:00 on the dot, parked the van, and shuffled over toward the front door.

Now, we had never done anything like this before -- we stay home all day the day after Thanksgiving, much less Thanksgiving night. We're not sure what we were expecting. But the first thing we saw were two Portland police cars, and a handful of civilian security people in reflective vests. Wow, that was different. Then as we got to the door, we were amazed to see a line that stretched all the way down the side of the store, and then around to the left, into the darkness of the rear:

In the back, the planes were taking off and making quite a racket. The lights on the back of the building made a harsh light. But the shoppers didn't seem the least bit impressed by the surreal scene. They were after something. What, we couldn't tell you, but the collective willpower was palpable, almost dangerous.

Not having any actual shopping goals at this point -- Christmas is about five weeks away -- of course we didn't actually join the line. But we had gotten to see what it was like. And to tell the truth, it was disturbing. Try to get a dozen people to show up for an important cause; it's not that easy to do. But Thanksgiving night, corporate retail has them out in the dark and the cold, questing, zombie-like, for goods. There had to be a thousand of them, at this one big box store alone.

We can't help but think that when the historians write up the fall of America, photos like these will be included. Maybe it was because we had had a long week and a big meal, but we drove home with a mild feeling of sadness and dread. And when we opened our e-mail, we found this, which didn't improve our outlook:

Doom is not a happy sensation. Let's hope tomorrow's daylight helps wash some of these impressions out of our mind.

Comments (14)

I had to go to Walmart in my midwestern burb for some household supplies -- it was about 6 and the first big sale of the cool stuff was scheduled at 8; folks were already lined up all around the store for the various goodies. I was heading to an aisle for one of my items where I got turned back because "this is the line for the laptop." I said, with some irritation: "I have a laptop. I just need toilet paper and I'll be outta here way before 8." (Why the line was in the toilet paper aisle, rather than the computer aisle, is beyond me.) I escaped with the TP and the rest of my supplies and got the heck out of there. Five cars were lined up for my parking space when I drove out.

Wow -- as we sat around after dinner, we laughed about how funny it would be if we went into Target and just bought toilet paper. It's uncanny that you did so, albeit at Walmart, and posted about it here.

I decided to try Black Friday 2 a few years back at Target. While waiting in line I chatted with some people and it was friendly. All hell broke loose when they opened the doors. It wasn't as bad as some stuff I've seen on youtube but you know the potential for some ugly is there.

I could feel the crowd mentality taking over my brain, which I now believe happens when you stand in line for three hours in freezing cold for a $15 crockpot.

Later, after watching a goodly number of grown adults who ought to know better push and provoke each other over last year's model of off brand TVs at Walmart, I came to my senses and went home.

I feel for retail employees that work these events, particularly Walmart. I also got the feeling that we all were going to hell a little bit faster.

Funny or stupid?

Speaking as someone working a Starbucks in a Dallas shopping mall for Black Friday 2003, I can attest that it's even scarier on the other side of the counter. On that day, you realize George Romero was making documentaries.

Go in at 9pm for a crockpot, back at midnight for the TV, and then back 5am for the ammo. Triple the fun.

Because only in America, people trample each other for sales exactly one day after being thankful for all that they have.

Greed is at all levels of our socio economic scale. Are the folks who tear each other apart over iPods and TVs any different from the banksters who rip off these same people on bank loans, or conduct economic terrorism with shady hedge fund deals, and dirivitives?
When there are no rules, chaos reigns supreme.

I'm sorry to say my wife's family indulges in this nonsense almost every year. We're up here visiting for the holiday with relatives in Vancouver. By 9:00 A.M. yesterday, I was sent out to the local 7-11 to get copies of both the Columbian and Boregonian. Within a half hour various family members were combing through the ads for various "bargains". And by last night, several had already gone out to make purchases. Fortunately, I prefer to simply stay out of the way and watch football games both before and after the big meal. Hope everyone had a decent Thanksgiving.

"Greed is at all levels of our socio economic scale. Are the folks who tear each other apart over iPods and TVs any different from the banksters who rip off these same people on bank loans, or conduct economic terrorism with shady hedge fund deals, and dirivitives? "

Could not agree more. And were the bankers who blew the real estate bubble into an exploding gigantosaurus any greedier than your neighbor who wanted to make a small fortune in America's homegrown pyramid scheme, now collapsed on most all our heads?

Fred Meyer Gateway, 7 am Friday. Crowded but not frantic; everybody was civil. Sale items were still widely available.

Mall 205 Target, 8 am Friday. Absolutely dead. Few sale signs or items in sight.

Conclusion--skip the Thursday night madness, sleep in a bit Friday, hit Freddy's around 7, go home happy.

Not depressing -- if you have the correct sunglasses, as Oregon's own Rowdy Roddy Piper found out in John Carpenter's film, They Live!

"....Conclusion--skip the Thursday night madness, sleep in a bit Friday, hit Freddy's around 7, go home happy...."

A buddy of mine did just that. Said he was surprised at how light the crowds were. Thanks to my dear wife, our shopping is done. I managed to hang out and enjoy my 'calorie coma' for an extra day...;-)

At Home Depot the staff is out in full force, every one of them asking if you need help, and donuts and coffee at the entrance. Now that's the way to shop!

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